Pioneering the Energy Transition: Overcoming Challenges through SMPnet's Omega Platform Optimisation

It's a daunting prospect. Your organisation needs an immediate pivot towards a sustainable, low-carbon future, and it's no small task.

It's a daunting prospect. Your organisation needs an immediate pivot towards a sustainable, low-carbon future, and it is no small task. The transition hinges largely on our collective ability to harness Renewable Energy Sources (RES) effectively while ensuring the network's security. The swift integration of RES poses challenges for grid operators due to their inherent variability, intermittency, and utilisation of power electronic devices. This is where the need for flexibility becomes paramount. It involves deploying technologies and strategies that enable grid operators to respond quickly to generation and demand patterns changes while optimising the network operation in short timeframes. By embracing flexibility provided by Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), such as Energy Storage Systems (ESSs) and Electric Vehicles (EVs), Demand Response (DR) programs, and advanced grid management techniques, we can effectively integrate and harness the full potential of RES while maintaining the reliability, stability, and security of supply for the network.

The Power of Transformation

In the throes of an energy sector transformation, distribution grids are transitioning from passive networks into active systems, courtesy of massive DERs integration and the rise of prosumers. The electrification of heating and transportation heightens the complexity of this shift, the integration of RES, and the need for a green transition.

Digital data and analytics serve as key allies in this journey. They enable predictive maintenance, reducing Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs and lowering electricity prices for end users. By 2040, digitalisation could save companies and consumers an average of USD 20 billion annually through a 5% reduction in O&M costs (IEA, 2017).

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Worldwide cost savings from enhanced digitalisation in power plants and electricity networks over 2016-2040

Digitalisation also enhances efficiency across the power system, curtails network loss rates, and improves overall planning. It reduces the frequency of unplanned outages and downtime, contributing to a more resilient and reliable supply. Crucially, digitalisation could extend the operational lifetimes of power plants and network components long term. If we expand the lifetime of all power assets globally by five years, we could defer close to USD 1.3 trillion of cumulative investment over 2016-40, significantly reducing annual investments in power plants and networks (IEA, 2017).

Hence, despite the challenges, integrating digital technologies into energy systems is not only possible but critical for managing complexities and enhancing efficiencies during the green transition.

Our Solution: The Omega Platform

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The Omega effect on utilities

At SMPnet, we understand these challenges. We have the Omega platform, a trailblazing technology designed to meet your grid's needs. Omega revolutionises energy management with key benefits, including real-time visibility, dynamic control, and seamless integration with various physical and virtual systems and platforms. Omega's modules make real-time, data-driven decisions to improve network efficiency and technical performance. An automated dispatch tool based on an advanced optimisation engine ensures that necessary commands are securely sent to energy assets. This feature enhances RES penetration and decreases operational costs while fortifying the system's reliability, security, and resilience.

Optimisation-driven approach

Optimisation paves the way for a resilient, efficient, optimised, and sustainable power grid capable of harnessing the full potential of DERs in the energy transition. It effectively manages and coordinates the power dispatch of controllable DERs, considering several factors and inputs, such as renewables and demand forecasts, real-time measurements, DER operational limits, and grid constraints. This optimisation-driven approach reduces reliance on conventional generation with intelligent energy management, ensuring that renewable energy and flexibility are efficiently utilised without compromising the reliability and security of the power system.

Optimisation techniques allow the efficient management of RES and other DERs to balance supply and demand in real-time in the most cost-efficient way. Optimisation ensures consistent voltage levels, frequency, and power quality by dynamically adjusting the operation of DERs, optimising reactive power control, and implementing voltage regulation techniques.

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Wide-area voltage optimisation deployment

Optimisation-based operation of the network enables flexibility by leveraging ESSs, EVs, DR and other technologies considering, among others, real-time market signals. With grid constraints utilised as inputs, Omega's optimisation alleviates grid congestions, voltage issues, and other technical violations, reduces stress on distribution equipment, and enhances the overall efficiency of the power system through intelligent dispatch. However, SMPnet did not stop there – The optimisation engine embedded within Omega is further enhanced with a feedback-based, adaptive capability ensuring that all the latest available grid status information is fed back into the optimisation engine, triggering a re-dispatch of the network that caters for all asset and network changes. The design we have utilised, alongside the powerful solvers hosted within Omega, ensures we can dispatch a typical distribution grid much closer to real-time and on a rolling-window basis.

Achieving this level of grid optimisation is crucial not only for operational efficiency and minimising operational expenditures but also for ensuring the security and reliability of the system. Considering generation and emission costs, market prices and policy incentives, optimisation techniques inform decision-making processes to minimise operating costs.

Our expert team is ready to offer a broad spectrum of optimisation services, including but not limited to cost minimisation, carbon emissions minimisation, peak management, congestion management and wide-area voltage optimisation. These services equip your network operators with the means to unlock the full potential of their networks without overstepping technical constraints.

The Iberdrola Case Study

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Iberdrola- Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub

Our collaboration with Spain's i-DE (distribution company of Iberdrola) is a testament to the Omega platform's effectiveness. Omega was deployed in Iberdrola's digital substation environment and virtually operated a part of the network in real-time while interfacing with multi-vendor Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs). In that deployment, Omega supervised the network and Iberdrola's IEDs and demonstrated, among others, its optimisation-based 1) wide-area voltage optimisation, 2) congestion management, and 3) flexibility provision.

Several key benefits were evident, such as:

  • Adaptation to RES's stochastic nature with regular optimisation based on the latest information.
  • Mitigating network constraint violations due to network topology changes (e.g., protection equipment activations) and RES spontaneous connections.
  • Prevention of unnecessary ESS usage, thereby increasing its lifespan.
  • Minimisation of reactive power injection/absorption, regulating voltages within permissible limits with minimal reactive losses.

The Way Forward

Optimisation of grid operation is no longer a luxury but an absolute necessity, given the vast number of DERs installed in your power grid. It equips utilities with a powerful tool to effectively deal with situations they have yet to face as the energy landscape changes dramatically. It's the lifeline for utilities like yours seeking to build efficient, reliable, and sustainable energy systems. At SMPnet, we stand by this principle. That's why we're committed to continually enhancing the Omega platform and our optimisation algorithms, keeping pace with the changing needs of electrical systems and technological advancements.

Discover More

Are you fascinated by the capabilities of the Omega platform? Let's explore how it could reshape your energy systems. We at SMPnet are here to help. We're happy to provide more information or organise a no-pressure demonstration to showcase the Omega platform's potential. Feel free to reach out when you're ready.

1IEA (2017), Digitalisation and Energy, IEA, Paris